News & Insight

Our expert views and commentary on what’s happening in the world of mortgages and sometimes beyond, along with our regular summary of what the papers say.

Help to Buy ISA: some myths busted

Barely announced and still several months from reality, there are already some myths and misconceptions around the Help to Buy ISA. We’ve tackled some of the main ones.The £15,000 upper limit is inadequate as a depositWell, it’s true that in many areas – especially the south of England – trying to use the maximum of £15,000 as a 10% deposit is unlikely to get you very much, and probably even less in a few years time.However £15,000 will also give...

Why do we pay Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty Land Tax is a controversial issue for some. Originally introduced as a historic tax in 1694, it is something that is unavoidable if you are buying a house.You must pay this tax by the official moving-in date (or possession date) of your new home.The stamp duty that we recognize today was first introduced in 2003, and has just undergone the biggest change since it was introduced. How does stamp duty work? If involved in the purchase p...

What the papers say – 6th and 7th December 2014

The Chancellor’s recent announcement regarding changes to the stamp duty system featured heavily in this weekend’s financial press, although opinion on the potential benefits remained divided. The reforms will see stamp duty charged in a similar way to income tax, with different percentage rates charged to each portion of the price. The changes were generally welcomed, but critics in the Financial Times claimed that a major overhaul is still need...

All Change – the new Stamp Duty regime

Stamp Duty Land Tax, to give it it’s official title, has been seen as a perennial problem for homebuyers, and the housing industry has long lobbied for it to be overhauled.Now, finally, it’s happened.The old “slab” structure applied a stamp duty rate to the full property value which had the benefit of simplicity but created severe increases around the thresholds, the classic example being: Property valued £250,000 – stamp duty 1% = £2,500 P...

Adding partners or spouses onto an existing mortgage

If you and your partner have been living together, there may come a point where you want to put your partners name onto the mortgage alongside yours.If your partner is helping to pay off the mortgage or contributing to the bills, and especially where children are involved, it can be a sensible move to get them added to the property deeds and the mortgage. However, it’s not just a case of changing the names on the mortgage with your lender. You wi...

10 Point Checklist for First Time Buyers in 2014

There have been so many changes to the property market within the last few years, that for first time buyers coming into the market right now, it’s like a whirlwind. Knowing the right places to look; the appropriate checks to ensure you do; and the changes in mortgage rates and house prices; it’s almost like you need a degree to understand everything involved in the process of buying a house.So here’s a quick guide to the most important things yo...

What the papers say – 8th and 9th March 2014

The Independent reported this week on the winners and losers since the Bank of England cut the base rate to 0.50% 5 years ago. While savings rates have floundered, borrowers have benefited from record low mortgage rates, and many have taken advantage of this by overpaying to reduce their debt.For those that haven’t taken the opportunity, there is still time, and brokers suggested that allocating a larger slice of the monthly budget to the mortgag...

Britons still ambitious to be homeowners

Recent CML research shows the percentage of the adult population aspiring to own a home is nearing its lowest level in the last 30 years. Despite this, at 79%, it remains the aspiration of the vast majority. 18 – 25 year olds have shown the largest change in sentiment, with a reduction of 10% aspiring to home ownership since 2007 and 3% in the last year. This is a concern for the housing market, as it is first time buyers who provide the stimulus...

A happy new year? It looks like it

Goodness me, has January gone already? How on earth did that happen? It’s been a busy few weeks, and your devoted product team are feeling a tad punch-drunk from the constant shifting in the market. So the month end seems like a good time to reflect on how 2013 started and what hints – if any – it gives for the rest of the year. 2012 finished with gross lending of £142billion or so (an improvement on 2011), optimistic noises from lenders about lo...

Homeowners choose improving over moving

A recent survey by Nationwide BS has shown that just under half of homeowners are planning to make home improvements compared to only 8% that are planning to move.  The majority of those planning to make improvements had an update of their decor in mind to modernise the home but almost 1 in 10 cited increasing living space as the reason.These figures are unlikely to come as a surprise to homeowners that have considered moving recently.  The marke...

What the papers say – 12th – 13th May 2012

The Times took another look at lender criteria this weekend with critics claiming that some, including Northern Rock and Santander, have gone too far with their questioning to establish affordability, requiring such detail as how much a borrower spends on holidays, Christmas, and even their pets. With the market as uncertain as it is this is perhaps not a surprise, but many experts feel that such stringent questioning will push would-be First Tim...

Time for panic-buying?

It’s not just Francis Maude triggering a spate of panic buying – if you’ve been hanging round the Bank of England's website you might feel the need to call your friendly mortgage adviser PDQ too. Once you’ve filled up the car of course.The Bank’s latest Credit Conditions Survey has just been released, and it doesn’t make cheery reading - at least, not if you’re wanting a mortgage in the not-too-distant future.The Survey, giving lenders' views on ...

What the papers say – 24th – 25th March 2012

The Financial Times and Independent on Sunday reported this weekend on further restrictions to lending criteria. Nationwide and Coventry Building Societies have become the latest lenders to restrict interest-only borrowing to 50% of the property value, and experts suggested that it will be increasingly hard for other mortgage providers to keep their current policies.  Borrowers who don’t meet the equity requirement could consider withdrawing cash...

Demographics, house prices and mortgage design

I had planned to talk about the budget today but for one thing everyone’s at it and for another, aside from the 15% rate on those attempting to dodge stamp duty by buying through a company plus retrospective hits for anyone weaselling out of that (got my inner leftie popping the cork on a bottle of People’s Sparkling Turnip Wine, I can tell you), there was little of interest from a mortgage point of view. I suspect the 7% rate will be largely gre...

First time buyers rush to meet stamp duty deadline

Figures just released by HMRC have confirmed an increase in property transactions in January 2012, up 23% compared to January 2011. This is undoubtedly being fuelled by first time buyers keen to get onto the property ladder before the 24 March stamp duty exemption deadline.The data shows there were 64,000 buyers overall in January, up 12,000 from the same month last year, and the highest January level since 2008.We have seen a similar trend at L&...

What the papers say - 14th and 15th January 2012

Despite an uncertain outlook for the mortgage market and a recent increase in rates by lenders including ING, experts in this weekend’s financial press suggested that there are still competitively priced deals to be found. The Times warned however that borrowers should watch out for extra costs attached to ‘best-buy’ rates, as many lenders have increased arrangement fees in order to spread the cost of the deal.  The Sunday Times reported on pred...

Make sure you get the best mortgage deal in 2012

With 2011 fast drawing to a close and attention turned to shopping, cooking and partying anyone can be forgiven for not considering their mortgage. But once we’re into the New Year there should be no excuse for making sure you get the best deal on what is likely to be your biggest monthly expenditure. Whether you have a mortgage on your own home or are a landlord you should take a few moments to take stock of the situation and see if you can save...

First Time Buyers – beware end of stamp duty holiday

First time buyers should move quickly in the New Year as the Government's stamp duty exemption comes to an end in March.When buying a new home, you need to pay stamp duty (or Stamp Duty Land Tax to give it its full name) as a percentage of the value of the property you’re buying.  There’s no stamp duty on properties worth £125,000 or less, but over that it’s charged at 1% and then 3% over £250,000.In March 2010, the Government announced a stamp d...

Autumn statement confirms end of stamp duty exemption

This week's Autumn Statement from the Chancellor was not expected to bring much news for the housing market, but it did confirm that the relief on stamp duty for first time buyers would come to an end in March next year.Stamp duty is normally paid on any property purchase above £125,000 but in 2010, a relief was granted to first time buyers purchasing a property up to £250,000.  The aim was to provide help to first time buyers who have continued ...

Credit agency offers seven tips to help you get your first mortgage

Times are still tough for first time buyers and getting a mortgage is often the hardest part of getting on the property ladder.There’s been some good news recently with big lenders like Woolwich and Nationwide relaunching 90% LTV (Loan To Value) mortgage deals for new customers, but a 10% deposit still requires a big chunk of money when you think that the average house price is now around £160,000.If you’re in the process of buying your first hom...

What the papers say 12-13th November 2011

What the papers say- 12th and 13th November 2011 The Financial Times and Sunday Times reports that 2 lenders have increased their SVR (standard variable rates) without the Bank of England base rate changing and discuss the possibility of other less well capitalised banks following suit. The Sunday Telegraph and The Times attention is drawn to the ongoing problems of the eurozone, which is increasing the cost of lenders’ funding and making UK mor...

Taxman to start checking mortgage applications

Yesterday saw the launch of the new Mortgage Verification Scheme – a new venture set up by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Building Societies Association and HM Revenue & Customs to help combat mortgage fraud.Under the scheme, mortgage lenders can choose to pass on an applicant’s details to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for further checking if they have insufficient evidence of the income being declared by the borrower and suspect frau...

What's in store for house prices and interest rates in 2011?

Looking back on an eventful year, some of the statistics give the impression that not a lot has happened in 2010 – house prices have barely changed since a year ago, the number of mortgages being taken out is much the same as in 2009 and interest rates haven’t budged from their all-time low of 0.5 per cent (in fact the Bank of England has left rates unchanged for 21 months in a row). So what can we expect from 2011?  And what should borrowers be...

New deals on offer for struggling first time buyers

Figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) this week showed that first time buyers’ share of the mortgage market fell in July to its lowest level for 3 years.  The number of mortgages taken out by First Time Buyers in July stood at 19,400 – down from 19,700 in June and from 20,100 July 2009. CML’s figures also show that buyers of their first home are, on average, putting down a deposit of 24% – this equates to around £40,000 depend...

“Tough but fair” budget aims to balance Britain’s books

In his first budget, the Chancellor, George Osborne, today unveiled a wide range of spending cuts and tax rises aimed at fixing Britain’s deficit within the next five years.The main headlines in what the Chancellor called a “progressive” and “unavoidable” budget include a rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent from 4th January 2011 – a measure that is projected to raise over £13billion a year of extra revenues – and substantial changes to ...

What the papers say- 14th April 2010

The Daily Mail reported today that the cost of buying a home has increased by £70,000 since Labour came into power in 1997. Gradual increases in Stamp Duty tax and house prices have both contributed and, although interest rates have dropped to a similar level as ’97, an increase in mortgage size means that the average buyer will pay £99,000 in interest as opposed to £36,700 13 years ago.  Despite the increased cost involved in buying, The Daily ...

What the papers say- 10th and 11th April 2010

With the general election creeping ever closer, the financial press were keen to examine the various initiatives offered by the 3 main parties this weekend. The Observer looked at various policies, such as Labour’s promise to target lending via Lloyds and RBS, as well as building another 10,000 affordable homes. The Conservatives plan to set up new local housing trusts and abolish Home Information Packs, while the Lib Dems aim to build more homes...

What the papers say- 7th April 2010

Spring traditionally signifies the start of the house buying season, and the Daily Telegraph revealed this week that recent changes to stamp duty have resulted in an increase in enquiries to estate agents and online property sites. Experts said that the recent announcement by the Post Office confirming that it will be offering 90% loans is good news for First Time Buyers, and other lenders are expected to follow suit, but getting together a sizea...

Budget 2010 Stamp Duty (part II)

Cutting stamp duty for first time buyers purchasing a property up to £250,000, is expected to cost the Treasury £520 million over the period of the waiver, and from next year those looking to buy at over £1 million will be helping to recoup that loss. From 6th April 2011 the rate of stamp duty on properties purchased for £1 million+ will increase from 4% to 5%, increasing borrowers’ costs by at least £10,000.Unlike the “holiday” for first time bu...

What the papers say- 27th and 28th March 2010

This weekend’s financial press was dominated by news of the Budget, and one particular focus was the announcement of a new stamp duty holiday for First Time Buyers on properties up to £250,000. Experts in the Mail on Sunday and the Guardian welcomed the initiative, agreeing that it will give a much needed boost to the spring market as well as removing another barrier for those saving to get a deposit together; however there was widespread critici...

Budget 2010 - Stamp Duty

As expected, today’s budget didn’t cause to many waves as it’s likely to be quickly followed by a general election, but following a number of earlier rumours there was some good news for the housing market.From midnight tonight, first time buyers will not pay stamp duty on purchases up to £250,000, saving them up to £2,500. Other buyers will continue to pay 1% on purchases between £125,001 - £250,000.Like the previous stamp duty holiday the move ...

House Price Recovery Falters.

According to Nationwide’s House Price Index, UK house prices fell by 1% in February, bringing to a halt their 9 month run of increases.Nationwide’s chief economist, Martin Gahbauer, commented “There is evidence from a range of indicators that the market may have lost momentum in early 2010 as the stamp duty holiday ended and house hunters were obstructed by the icy weather,”He also cautioned that “At this stage, it is difficult to gauge how much ...

What the papers say- 12th and 13th December 2009

This weekend’s financial press was largely taken up with coverage of last week’s Pre-Budget Report, and the Sunday Times, amongst others, took a general look at the impact of the proposed changes on high earners, public sector workers, pensioners and homebuyers. As expected, the Chancellor confirmed that he will not be extending the stamp duty holiday, so from January 1st it will return to its previous level of £125,000, and as the Sunday Telegra...

The house price rollercoaster continues.

Just as we’ve been getting used to some positive signs for the housing market, somebody has to come along and spoil it with some facts. Rightmove the property website reported asking prices dropped by 1.6% in November and expect them to continue falling for the next two months. Prices fell as sellers looked to secure a sale before Christmas, their case helped by some buyers being equally keen to beat the imminent change in the stamp duty thresh...

What the papers say- 17th and 18th October 2009

This weekend’s mortgage news focused on the recent Centre for Economics and Business Research forecast that interest rates will remain low for at least 2 years, with the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and the Observer all discussing the impact this will have on a borrower’s decision over what rate to take. Experts suggest that lifetime trackers and some standard variable rates are very competitive at the moment depending on the amount of equity in...

Last Call for Stamp Duty Holiday

Now that we’re well into September, the end of the stamp duty holiday looms ever closer and those thinking of buying will need to reach a decision of whether to ‘use it or lose it’. The waiver of stamp duty for house purchases up to £175,000 comes to a close at the end of the year and will only apply to purchases that complete before the deadline. Potentially worth as much as £1750 it could be valuable help for first time buyers already facing th...

House Prices Continue Downward Trend

As we have come to expect, both Nationwide and Halifax reported house prices falling further in April, but by differing amounts.Nationwide reported a drop of 0.4% to an average price of £151,861, and Halifax a much larger drop of 1.7% to £154,716, giving annual reductions of 15% and 17.7% respectively.Nationwide welcomed the extension to the stamp duty holiday announced in the budget. Before the initial stamp duty announcement last September, onl...

What the papers say - 2nd and 3rd May 2009

Future interest rates were the subject of much discussion in this weekend’s financial press, with The Guardian and Sunday Times reporting that a predicted rise later this year has prompted more borrowers to look at longer term fixed rates.  The Mail on Sunday continued this theme by looking at ways of getting the best deal possible, examining the range of tracker rates available that give borrowers the option to switch to a fixed rate at a later ...

What the papers say – 25th and 26th April 2009

This weekend’s financial press was brimming with comments and advice following last week’s budget announcement. The Times, Telegraph and the Sunday Times all reported on the extension of the current stamp duty window, with many industry experts sharing the opinion that the move does not go far enough in helping First Time Buyers....

Budget Summary

Here are the main points of the budget delivered yesterday by Alistair DarlingHousing & MortgagesThe temporary increase in the nil rate stamp duty threshold to £175,000 will be extended to the end of the year. This means around 60% of all house purchases will be exempt.£500 million will be provided to enable stalled housing developments to be completed£100 million will be given to local government to build energy efficient housing.£50 million...

What the papers say – 4th and 5th April 2009

Easter generally sees the start of house buying season, and as such this weekend’s press examined the current state of the UK housing market. The Independent on Sunday reported that the average property price has fallen below £150,000 for the first time in 5 years, yet mortgage finance remains the biggest barrier, particularly to First Time Buyers with small deposits. The Sunday Express continues this by discussing the call from campaigners for a...

What the papers say - 24th and 25th January 2009

The Times’ money section on Saturday asked property experts to explain the prospects for first-time buyers and those trading up. Although there are bargains to be found in every postcode, mortgage rates for those with small deposits are still relatively high but there are good deals for creditworthy homeowners with a large equity stake in their homes. Readers were reminded that the temporary increase-until September- in the 0 per cent stamp duty ...

August House Price Movements

Both Nationwide and Halifax reported similar falls in their house price indices for August, as the downward trend gathered pace. Nationwide reported an average fall of 1.9% in August and Halifax 1.8%, with both lenders now quoting the annual rate of decline in double figures for the first time in at least 18 years.While different, the average price given by both lenders is now below the new stamp duty threshold of £175,000 announced by the Chance...

What the papers say - 6th and 7th September 2008

The weekend financial pages were primarily concerned with the Government’s attempted housing market rescue plan, with articles on stamp duty, homebuyer schemes and the Bank of England base rate top of the agenda.  The Daily Telegraph insisted that homebuyers must decide whether to take advantage of the temporary increase in the Stamp Duty threshold to £175,000, announced by the Government this week, or wait and see if house prices fall further. ...

Stamp Duty Announcement

From 3rd September the stamp duty threshold will be temporarily increased to £175,000 for 1 year, saving homebuyers up to £1,750.The announcement has at least brought speculation over it’s makeup to a close, but some will still be disappointed the Government didn’t do more. Lifting the threshold means that around half of all housing transactions will now be free of stamp duty according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, a figure that could incre...

What the papers say - 3rd September 2008

The new stamp duty waiver was the subject of much discussion across all newspapers after it was announced that properties costing less than £175,000 will be exempt for the next year, in an attempt to revive the stagnant housing market. According to the Times, the £600million measure will take more buyers at the bottom of the housing market-likely to be first-time purchasers- out of the stamp duty bracket altogether, saving them up to £1,750.   E...

What the papers say - 21st August 2008

There was a noticeable shortage of mortgage-related features in the midweek press, with only the Daily Express offering two articles. Firstly, a number of experts advised that with economic forecasts dropping sharply next year, tracker mortgages should be the first choice of home loan. Many borrowers will take a tracker but leave themselves open to switching to a fix when rates fall. Some lenders allow borrowers to drop the tracker loan and lock ...

Stamp Duty Rumours

Speculation is rife that the Government plans to postpone or suspend the payment of stamp duty on property purchase, in a bid to help the housing market. The Chancellor is doing nothing to dispel the rumour as when directly asked, he told the BBC he was "looking at a number of measures" and had not "concluded exactly what we need to do".Unfortunately, this lack of clarity will have the opposite affect on the housing market. Those considering maki...

What the papers say - 6th August 2008

The Times reported that there is pressure on the Chancellor to suspend stamp duty, in a bid to free the market and increase lending. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors urged Mr Darling to introduce a ‘short term holiday’ followed by longer-term reform and to suspend any stamp duty for properties less than £150,000.The Daily Mail looked at the benefits of fee-free long-term tracker rates, which may prove worthwhile for those willing to tak...

What the papers say - 26th and 27th July 2008

There was a comprehensive range of mortgage-related articles in the weekend press, ranging from interest rate cuts to lender’s credit crunch profits.The Financial Times looked at the incentives that house builders have introduced to attract buyers in a falling market. Popular offers include mortgage subsidies of £500 a month for two years and paid stamp duty and legal fees. The paper also reported that Northern Rock, HBOS and the Royal Bank of Sc...

What the papers say - 15th and 16th March 2008

Last week’s budget and the issues it raised about the property market were the primary focus of the weekend press. Nearly all the national newspapers featured articles on the Chancellor’s hopes for long-term fixed rates and the changes to shared-equity and shared ownership schemes. However, a much hoped for revision of stamp duty did not materialise, leaving many potential first-time buyers disappointed.  The Times reported Alistair Darling’s ne...

BUDGET 2008: Stamp Duty

Disappointingly, there were once again no great changes to the Stamp Duty Land Tax.The last change to this tax was in 2006 when the 1% threshold was increased from £120,000 to £125,000, but there has been no change to the other bands (at £250,000 and £500,000) since 2000.Thanks to the housing boom, the Government has seen nearly a ten-fold increase in its revenue from stamp duty over the last decade.  In 200/07, it received £6.4 billion according...

What the papers say - 12th March 2008

Mortgage-related articles in the national press were mainly in relation to today’s Budget. The Daily Mirror asked for the Chancellor to reduce the threshold at which stamp duty kicks in- from £125,000 to at least £200,000. The plea comes as new research from the Halifax showed that first-time buyers paid an average of £1,750 in stamp duty last year- nearly double the £960 paid in 2002. In line with the current economic climate, the Times reported...

Budget Day

Alistair Darling will give his first Budget speech at 12.30 p.m. today.  The Chancellor has not had a happy tenure so far since taking over from Gordon Brown.  The collapse of Northern Rock has inevitably led to huge amounts of criticism and Mr Darling now faces some very tough market conditions.So what might we see from the Chancellor today regarding mortgages?Long term fixed rates – these have been a pet topic for Darling but the discussion dat...

What the papers say - 1st and 2nd March 2008

The crucial topic in this weekend’s press was the clampdown on lending from Britain’s major banks and building societies. Reportedly, the effects of the ‘credit crunch’ are beginning to deepen and it is becoming difficult for existing and new borrowers to secure the best rates.Across the majority of weekend newspapers, articles discussed the realities facing first-time buyers, many of whom have little or no deposit when purchasing their first hom...

Load more
Call our expert
advisers now
icon-contact
Call free from mobile or landline
Open 7 days a week until 8pm weekdays